I came up with the idea during class but it kind of stuck with me: this notion that, what we really see in the Culture with its pseudo-immortality is not a definitive continuation of life. The idea of posterity, however, has been eradicated--you will live on, in some form, and so the creation of art, the productivity, is virtually gone. These people no loner have to work toward a future because they know that they will be in that future, and post-scarcity means that no one has to support themselves. But these future avatars--will they be us?
The first thing I thought of was Dune. In all six books, the only consistent character is Duncan Idaho, but, having been killed in the first book, he has returned as a ghola, a clone of a dead man. By the end of the second book, he has recovered, somehow, the genetic memory of the first Duncan Idaho. In the fourth, we have yet another Duncan, revived by the same process, in the fifth--you guessed it, another Duncan, but this one with the memories of all the other Duncan gholas (gholae? I don't know). So while Duncan Idaho of Heretics of Dune is the culmination of centuries of different Duncans, he is not the original, and that means that the Duncan who first died on Arrakis ended when he died. Ghola Duncan is him, but he is not ghola Duncan.
A similar situation comes up, in a different way, on the show Caprica. My understanding of BSG et al. is rather diffuse, given that I'm working my way through the second season, but one of the things they talk about in Caprica is the creation of avatars. Prior to her death, Zoe Graystone creates an avatar of herself composed entirely of her memories, her data, her personality. When Zoe dies in a tragic accident, this avatar is all that remains of her--but is it a person? It thinks, it apparently feels--which is proven in some pretty upsetting ways, thanks to Daniel Graystone's colossal ruthlessness--but it is not, in effect, the same Zoe who stepped on a train and died. And the Zoe avatar becomes the first Cylon--who definitely believe that they have souls. The monotheist cult to which Zoe belonged believes that the virtual Zoe is proof that life goes on--but is it true?
Yesterday we sat around and talked about what would be best in an alien-human interaction. I didn't contribute, mainly because I've been thinking it through all semester and I'm still not sure I've come up with an answer. It would be nice if we had someone like Ender circa Speaker for the Dead, a man so empathic that he is capable of understanding something totally alien. But remember--the only reason that Ender works so hard toward some kind of reconciliation with the piggies is because he knows the terrible consequences of xenocide. A lot of people suggested Lem's conclusion, which was pretty ambiguous. Frankly, I'd want the Doctor.
I swear, it's not because of David Tennant. But in The Christmas Invasion, the Doctor essentially uses an infinite understanding of other cultures to peacefully repel an alien invasion by the Sycorax--and when the Prime Minister then chooses the Schmittean option, and destroys the alien spaceship, the Doctor becomes livid, and threatens to take down her entire government. But we won't ever get anyone like the Doctor, because he's an alien enamored with Earth. So who do we send?
Do we send Tomas, the guy who basically agreed to disagree with the Martian? Emilio, the linguist? Do we send a brilliant but ruthless empath like Ender? Maybe Marjorie? I frankly don't know. At all. I agree with Stephen Hawking: whatever happens, it won't be pretty, so we should probably hope it doesn't happen. Ideally, though, we'd try to make some sort of understanding rather than kill each other, but as Graff says, species are wired to survive. It creates an odd occasion of mutually assured destruction.
Is Rey Luke's Daughter? - There seem to be some clues for this theory already embedded in *The Force Awakens. *When Rey first encounters Luke's lightsaber she sees a strange vis...
5 weeks ago